Mozambique Diary: The House of Spiders

Last week, I had the occasion to interview Edward O. Wilson, world-renowned biologist, founder of sociobiology, a two-time Pulitzer prize winner and lots of other awards. More importantly, however, he’s a University of Alabama alum from Birmingham and a true Southern gentleman. During our conversation, he told me and my fellow Crimson White colleague, Austin Frederick, of his slight arachnophobia and the childhood incident that spurned it. In my experience, some of the most successful people are also the most charming, and Dr. Wilson certainly proved this. Read his guest blog post on “The Smaller Majority” to learn more about Dr. Wilson and his recent exploits at the House of Spiders in Mozambique.

The Smaller Majority by Piotr Naskrecki

A guest post by Edward O. Wilson

The skeletal remains of the Hippo House, once a busy restaurant and observation point.  Orb weaver (Nephilengys cruentata) from the Hippo House. The skeletal remains of the Hippo House, once a busy restaurant and observation point.

Each spider in the Hippo House was sheltered in a tubular retreat, a behavior typical of all species in the genus Nephilengys. Each spider in the Hippo House was sheltered in a silken, tubular retreat, a behavior typical of species in the genus Nephilengys.

At the end of a long rutted road in the park sits a conspicuous artifact in the midst of wilderness. Built in 1970, the Hippo House was the vantage point, the antigo miradouro, from which well-heeled tourists, cool drinks in hand, watched wildlife herds as they grazed over the vast floodplain grassland below. Today the herds are back, but the house is a seldom-visited ruin. During the Mozambique civil war, almost all the buildings of Gorongosa National Park were torn down or blown away, leaving behind a few remnants scarred by bullets. The house had been reduced to a shell of its original self.

When…

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